Thursday 21 September 2017

Northern lift-off as jet centre is launched by astronaut

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster, Philip McBride of Thales Belfast, astronaut Tim Peake and Economy Minister Simon Hamilton at the new space industry facility in Belfast. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye /PA Wire
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster, Philip McBride of Thales Belfast, astronaut Tim Peake and Economy Minister Simon Hamilton at the new space industry facility in Belfast. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye /PA Wire

Margaret Canning

Astronaut Tim Peake praised Northern Ireland's "cutting-edge" technology, as he opened a new £6m (€6.7m) space propulsion centre in Belfast.

The centre is a major step forward for the space sector north of the Border and a boost for the city.

Tim Peake with Callum Milligan (5) during a visit to the Glasgow Science Centre on Sunday. Photo: John Linton/PA Wire
Tim Peake with Callum Milligan (5) during a visit to the Glasgow Science Centre on Sunday. Photo: John Linton/PA Wire

After the renowned space explorer opened air defence group Thales's new centre, Tim also met 200 children from local schools on the visit.

The new Thales centre will be manufacturing propulsion systems for sending high-tech satellites into space - for everything from telecommunications to weather-forecasting.

Tim famously spent six months in the International Space Station, where he helped to inspire the next generation of scientists.

He described the range of his work for the European Space Agency.

"I can go from melting metal alloys in the European lab, to the US laboratory, working with proteins for the pharmaceutical industry.

"It gives me as much, if not more pleasure, to come back and visit industry that is driving investment in cutting-edge technology."

Speaking at the event, First Minister Arlene Foster said: "I welcome this £6m investment in this magnificent facility. The establishment of this industrial aerospace production facility is an important investment in the development of Northern Ireland's space cluster and demonstrates the group's confidence in the world-class engineering capabilities of its workforce in Northern Ireland."

Irish Independent

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